ETCETERA / Chess

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The International Master Michael Basman tells a sad tale wherein his edge-hogging style is run down in the centre of the board.

White: M Basman

Black: D Walker

Plymouth 1992.

1. d4 h6 2. e4 c5 3. c3 cxd4 4. cxd4 d6

Last year, I was playing h6 and a6 on my first two moves, delaying any central pawn advance. This season's plan is different: h6 and g5 followed by d6, Nc6 and Bg7 to attack d4, securing e5 if the white d-pawn advances.

5. Nc3 g5 6. Bb5+

A well-motivated check. If I play Nd7, the knight cannot go to c6, while exchanging bishops leaves White well placed to exploit the weakened f5 and h5 squares.

6 . . . Bd7 7. Bxd7+ Qxd7 8. Nge2 Nc6 9. Ng3 Nf6 10. 0-0 Rg8

With Bg7 running into an unpleasant Nf5, I had to find something to do. To the uninitiated, this may look ungainly, but I am never going to castle K-side, so it makes sense to use the rook to support my pawns' advance.

11. Be3 g4 12. d5 Ne5 13. Bd4 h5 14. Qb3 Bh6 15. Bxe5 dxe5 16. Nf5 Bg5 (see diagram)

My position felt solid here. The plan is to play Kf8, move the rook from a8, and threaten Nxe4, undermining his knight on f5.

White's next move, however, caused unwanted disruption.

17. d6] e6

After 17 . . . exd6, I was frightened of 18. Rfd1 when White crushes through the centre.

18. Ne3 g3]? 19. hxg3 Bxe3?

With g4 vacated for the knight, I thought I could stand the opening of the f-file, but it turned out disastrously. Instead, Black should play 19 . . . h4] when we looked at 20. gxh4 Bxh4 21. Nc4 Ng4] 22. f3 Nf6 23. Nb5] Kf8 24. Nxe5 Qd8 which is completely unclear.

20. fxe3 Ng4 21. Nb5

Positionally, Black stands well. The trouble is that I am getting mated. After 21 . . . Kf8, White simply plays Nc7 and Nxe6+.

21 . . . Rc8 22. Nc7+ Kd8 23. Qxb7 Nxe3

Now if White plays 24. Rf3, the knight comes to c4, takes on d6 and Black is fine.

24. Rac1]]

Unfortunately, my opponent found this beautiful tactical solution. 24 . . . Nxf1 loses to 25. Nxe6+]] fxe6 26. Rxc8+ Qxc8 27. Qe7 mate.

24 . . . Re8

After 24 . . . Qxd6, even 25. Qxc8+] Kxc8 26. Nb5+ Kd7 27. Rxf7+ wins easily for White.

25. Rf3 Ng4 26. Rfc3 resigns.

There is nothing to be done about the threat of Nxe6+.

I shall have to look at 19 . . . h4 more closely. If it does not keep Black in the game, then I shall revert to an early a6.

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